New Orleans Saints 2009 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2008 Record 8-8 (10-5-1 ATS)
Stadium: Louisiana Superdome
Head Coach: Sean Peyton (4th Season 26-24)
Current 2008 Super Bowl Odds 22-to-1
Training Camp Site: New Orleans Saints Training Facility, Metairie, La.
The 2008 season for New Orleans Saints was a roller coaster, plain and simple. With the exception of two weeks in early November when
they won back-to-back games, the Saints were unable to put together a
winning streak of any kind, winning one week only to lose the next,
and thus finished the year with a kissing-your-sister-like 8-8 record.
But the Saints still have one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL with
Drew Brees, plenty of talent surrounding him on the perimeter and an
innovative and aggressive head coach in Sean Peyton. If they could
just find a defense to go along with their top-ranked offense the
Saints may be able to turn from a giant tease into a Super Bowl
contender in 2009-2010.
Whos In/Whos Out
Despite letting a total of 17 players declare for free agency,
surprisingly the Saints had very little turnover in the offseason.
They re-signed a large majority of those players back, including
linebacker Jonathan Vilma, WR Devery Henderson, corner Jabari Greer,
backup quarterback Joey Harrington and offensive lineman Jon
Stinchcomb. They also brought their big-name restricted free agents
back, namely WR Lance Moore and guard Jahri Evans.
The few players they let go for good, like backup running back Aaron
Stecker and corner Aaron Glenn, were expendable pieces that will be
They did however part ways with longtime running back Deuce
McAllister, cutting him in late February in a move that was expected.
They also cut WR David Patten and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas,
allowing them to leave for Cleveland and St. Louis, respectively.
Linebacker Dan Morgan also left the Saints, deciding to end his
battle with concussions and injuries in order to try and enjoy his
retirement. Longtime defensive tackle LaRoi Glover also decided to
hang them up for good, retiring in June after 13 seasons.
The Saints were also very quiet in going out and getting free agents,
other than their own, as free safety Darren Sharper was the only
signing of any consequence they made during the winter.
Draft Class 2009
Due to trades in past seasons the Saints only had four draft picks in
the entire 2009 draft, and only one of those was a day-one selection.
That selection, first round pick Malcolm Jenkins (14th overall), will
be expected to step in on day one at corner and help the Saints try
and solidify one of the leagues worst pass defenses in 2008.
Their two 4th-round picks, safety Chip Vaughn and linebacker Stanley
Amoux will be lucky to even make the team. But their 5th-round pick,
punter Thomas Morstead, will be given every opportunity to try and
win the job in training camp.
The Saints were the top-ranked offense in the NFL last season in
multiple categories, including scoring (28.9 ppg), passing yards
(311.1 ypg) and total yards (410.7 ypg). If there was one downfall
though it was that the Saints relied too heavily on Brees and the
passing game, as the running game suffered to a 28th-ranked finish
with just under a 100 yards per contest (99.6 ypg).
Brees threw for over 5,000 yards and 34 touchdowns, but he was also
extremely accurate (65.0 comp. %) and only threw 17 interceptions in
635 attempts. He also finished with a 96.2 QB rating, one of the best
marks of his career.
A healthy Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey should help Brees put up
good passing numbers in 2009 too. Colston missed five games due to
injury in 08, and only caught five touchdowns and finished with 760
yards after a breakout 2007 season. Shockey, acquired just before
training camp last year from the New York Giants, missed four games
and ended with 50 catches for 483 yards, but he never reached the end
zone. Moore (928 yds., 10 TD) and Henderson (793 yds., 3 TD) filled
in nicely in their absence and now become part of what is an
exceptional receiving core in New Orleans.
Part of the reason the Saints running game suffered in 08 is because
of the health of former first-round pick Reggie Bush. Bush, who came
into the league with so much fanfare but has since become just
another running back, ended the season with less than 1,000 yards
combined rushing and receiving and only scored six TDs. However, the
Saints did find a capable runner in Pierre Thomas last season, as he
came out of nowhere to lead the team with 625 yards rushing and nine
The line, which features Stinchcomb and Jammal Brown at tackle and Evans, Carl Nicks and Jonathan Goodwin on the interior, is better as pass-protection than run blocking. But again, the Saints issues
arent on offense but on the other side of the ball.
The good news for the Saints is that they did improve the defensive
unit that ended 2007 ranked 29th in the 32-team league the bad news
is they only moved up to 23rd in total yards allowed (339.5 ypg).
So Peyton brought in former head coach and former Redskins defensive
coordinator Greg Williams to try again in 09.
Williams will have his hands full, as just last week he learned that
two of his projected starters on the line, ends Will Smith and
Charles Grant, will be suspended the first four games for violating
the leagues banned substances policy. Bobby McCray, Sedrick Ellis
and Kendrick Clancy will need to play big and the Saints will have to
develop some depth in training camp in order to keep the run defense
from slipping below their 17th-ranked finish in 08 (117.8 ypg).
The linebacking core is solid, with Scott Fujita, Vilma and Scott
Shanle as starters and Jo-Lonn Dunbar as the top sub. Mark Simoneau
was expected to see playing time at linebacker, but he tore his
triceps and might start the season on injured reserve, which is why
the rumor going around New Orleans right now is that the Saints might
sign former Tampa Bay Pro-Bowler Derrick Brooks for depth. But how
much the 14-year veteran still brings to the table is worthy of a
The secondary should improve their ball-hawking skills with Sharper
coming in a free safety. Jenkins will receive competition in camp
from Randall Gay, Jason David (team-high five INTs in 08) and Greer,
all vying for the chance to start opposite right corner Tracy Porter.
Roman Harper is back at strong safety on a unit that allowed 221.7
yards per game last season (23rd).
The Saints kicking game in 2008 was a mirror image of their entire
season topsy-turvy. They went through three different kickers over
the course of the season, and three different punters as well.
Garrett Hartley ended the season as the Saints kicker and was a
productive 13-for-13 on field goal attempts, so hell get the first
crack at the job in 09.
The same can be said for punter Glenn Pakulak, who ended the season
with decent numbers (47.7 ave., 37.8 net), but hell have serious
competition from the draft pick Morstead in camp.
The only part of Bushs career in the NFL that hasnt been a big
disappointment is his punt return skills, which featured a 13.5
average and three touchdowns in 08. Thomas was the main kickoff
returner in 08 (25.6 ave.), but you got to think that the Saints
wont expose both of their top two running backs to the injury
possibilities of returning kicks. Courtney Roby (24.8 ave. in 19
returns) could take over the role if they do decide to remove Thomas
from the risk.
Sept. 13 DETROIT LIONS
Sept. 20 at Philadelphia Eagles
Sept. 27 at Buffalo Bills
Oct. 4 NEW YORK JETS
Oct. 11 Bye
Oct. 18 NEW YORK GIANTS
Oct. 25 at Miami Dolphins
Nov. 2 ATLANTA FALCONS
Nov. 8 CAROLINA PANTHERS
Nov. 15 at St. Louis Rams
Nov. 22 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nov. 30 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Dec. 6 at Washington Redskins
Dec. 13 at Atlanta Falcons
Dec. 19 DALLAS COWBOYS
Dec. 27 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Jan. 3 at Carolina Panthers
Betting Odds and Projections
While the Saints and their fans in New Orleans and Louisiana were
certainly disappointed in the 8-8 record, bettors on the other hand
cashed in a fistful of tickets on the team in 08 as they ended the
year with one of the leagues best against-the-spread records of
10-5-1. The over bet was also a very lucrative wager for bettors, as
the Saints high-powered offense and porous defense made the over cash
in at 10-5-1 as well.
Oddsmakers certainly see the potential in the Saints for 2009-2010, or maybe they are just mesmerized by all of that offense, but either
way the Saints are currently listed at 22-to-1 odds to win Super Bowl
44. A fairly low number for a team that barely finished.
500 last season and did little in the way of big additions in the
offseason to increase their chances.
The Saints have one of the friendlier schedules in 09 as well, with
games against Detroit, St. Louis and the Jets, three teams expected
to struggle this season. If they can win their first two road games
at Philly and Buffalo they will be sitting pretty, since three of the
next four following the bye are all home games against the Giants,
Falcons and Panthers. They also play Dallas and New England at home
in the Superdome, where they were 6-2 last season.
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